Sunday, August 8, 2010
I went to church this morning with my big-tough-guy best friend, Jason. When something is troubling him, he often asks me to go to his church with him.
Jason is a police officer in a gritty, inner-city area who sees the very worst of broken humanity day after day. He’s a small-town New Jersey dude with a big-city attitude. He can either be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York looking at the Angel Christmas tree or winning a North Carolina BBQ contest with a big wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek. You just never know. He’s loyal, fiercely stubborn, and Polish to the core.
Jason struggles with his understanding of the Lord. He sees God as a punishing father just waiting for him to step out of line and do the wrong thing. Deep in his heart he is a person of tremendous faith, but his failure to see God as a loving Abba makes him incredibly hard on both himself and others.
The sermon was from Jesus’ parable about the servants staying prepared for their master’s return. The priest said that no one wants to meet his or her Maker any time soon. The priest continued to explain that one has to know God here on earth so that when you actually do meet your Maker at death, it isn’t the first time you’ve been introduced. He described how people in certain occupations, such as police officers and fire fighters, needed to be ready all the time.
Walking with God, he said, is an incremental process. If you try to think about the enormity of it, you will become discouraged. He recommended doing something every day, little by little, step by step. When I peeped over at Jason out of the corner of my eye, he had tears in his. I’m a terrible spy on people at church, I confess it.
The priest urged us to see the Jesus in those around us and Jason’s hand clamped down so hard on my knee that I winced. I debated putting that last sentence in this blog entry and thought about saying he grabbed my arm. But that wasn’t true. I’ll just say that there was nothing even remotely romantic about the gesture.
Finally, the priest talked about the enormous and immeasurable love that God has for his children. He preached everything I’d ever tried to talk to Jason about for the last six years.
The organ played “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and the choir sang. One soprano sang a descant high over everyone else’s voices, putting shivers down my spine and making me think of the angels praising God before His throne.
We walked out in silence and got into Jason’s squad car so he could drop me at home where Bruce was waiting to take me to lunch. He put his hands on the wheel, backed up the car, turned to me, the tears shining in his eyes and said, “Okay, I get it.”
I love when God does stuff like this.
As Bruce and I drove to Red Robin, I thought, “If only Jason could really understand the love of God and listen for His voice, he’d stop struggling.” And God whispered to my heart, “So would you.”
Posted by JPG at 9:30 PM